Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shooting Stars, Gumball Machines, and Greater Things ((Or, I Could Really Use a Wish Right Now))

{by Hailey Sadler}

I have to say, I’ve never wished on a star… shooting or otherwise.

Because frankly, the cynical, practical side of my nature probably wouldn’t let me; it would laugh me out of it. [If you don’t have a dominating cynical, practical side and can’t relate to this… congratulations! You can do any wholly illogical, romantic thing without that inner sarcastic voice annoying you.] But sometimes, practical or not, all I want is a star to fall out of the sky and make the world right.

So, when in need of a wish [or three] to be granted me, I turn to the more ‘holy’ version of wishing on a star. I pray. I cry out to God. But I’m not really crying out to Him, as a Person, my personal and knowing Savior, as a loving Father who delights in giving His children every good and perfect gift. Instead, I’m wanting to use a sort of Divine Gumball Machine where I stick in my prayer, turn the handle, and out comes the result I want.  My reaching out to Him is not in desire for a relationship or for Him as a Person, it’s more the can-I-please-have-this-like-right-now kind of prayer. Sometimes it feels as vague and faraway and improbable as whispering a wish to the night sky. At times like these, I’m not looking for God; all I really want is a holy shooting star to wish on.

At least that is what I think I want. But sometimes what you feel like you want and what you’re really crying out for from the innermost depths of your being can be two different things entirely. I ask for help in doing my best on a test. I ask for strength in finishing a (fast) race. I ask for that really adorable coat to still be there when I come back next week with my wallet. I want things, I want results, I want answers. Yet that is not all. Beneath the craving for all these external fulfillments, my heart is really crying out for something bigger, something greater, something higher to fill up its hungry, searching depths. Or rather not something but Someone. Is it possible that even if that Divine Gumball Machine were a reality and I could push in prayers like quarters that that would not satisfy me? That maybe while I’m impatiently requesting a minor or tangible change in my reality that what I really want is fulfillment in the beyond-tangible Author of that reality?

I think yes.

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis


  1. How true and beautifully said. What a powerful, relatable, well-written article! This is so often the way I feel but I've never actually put it into words before...this really opened my eyes.

  2. Augustine famously wrote, 'You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.' The most basic tendency of human nature is to find meaning. Materialism and hedonism only go so far towards filling the 'purpose' hole in our lives; no true satisfaction can be found until we delight in the glory of our Lord and Savior.

    Our satisfaction in Christ should never prohibit us from asking him for what we desire, though. God was under no obligation to create humanity. He was under no obligation to put us into a creatively designed world. There was no pressure for Him to give us senses that allow for enjoyment of our surroundings. Yet He created all of these things, because he finds pleasure in our pleasure.

    It's not wrong to ask God for things. It's not wrong to pray that God might allow x event that will make you happier. The amazingness of our God is that He knows what will make us happy better than we do, and often in ways that we don't see yet. When the gum ball machine malfunctions, it doesn't necessarily mean God forgot to fix it. It could just be that He has a better gift in store for us.

    Summary: Our relationship with our God must primarily be one of love and devotion. Out of that love, we may ask God for his blessings and He will give us what we truly need.

  3. To parallel what Anonymous said: Blaise Pascal once wrote, "There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus." Thank you for being so honest in this post! I really enjoyed it (and the picture at the end was beautiful!).

  4. Anonymous, I completely agree with what you said. "When the gumball machine malfunctions, it doesn't necessarily mean God forgot to fix it..." sometimes that is hard to remember in the moment - as you frustratedly shove in more quarters - but when you look back it's like wow, He did have something planned for me that was better than I could have imagined to ask for! You have some really insightful thoughts, thanks for sharing :)

    Miss Dashwood, I love that quote... And thank you for your kind words; I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  5. Wow, this article and these comments came at just the right moment in my life! This was so encouraging to me...I've been praying for a certain situation for weeks, and I've either been told "No" or "Just wait." I can't tell which it is yet, but just yesterday I realized that God may have something wonderful coming, something that will strengthen my faith when I look back in a couple of years.

    Thank you thank you thank you. I'll try to keep this in mind when I feel afraid or discouraged.